Bell bottoms had arrived, skirts were both up and down; everyone was talking about the Isle of Wight Festival and Jimmy Hendrix’s jacket. It was a summer of transformation: the 60s were over. In the spirit of the time, an art student called Farrokh Bulsarra changed his last name to Mercury.
Bulsarra had just joined a band called Smile, but he persuaded them to turn themselves into Queen. He also explained to them — and this took him a little longer — that they needed to look the part on stage. Rock and roll was about performance, creating an experience for the audience. Singing in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and playing an instrument was not good enough. The band needed to dress to entertain.
Queen played their first gig on June 27, 1970 in Truro, because drummer Roger Taylor’s mum had booked them for her Red Cross benefit well in advance. Apparently they weren’t very good. But by the time they played again on July 18 at Imperial College in London, they were beginning to get a groove. That summer, the South Node was crossing Freddie’s Mercury — the forces of destiny were about to unleash his voice, Mercury’s voice, on the world.
Although we don’t have a real birth time for Freddie Mercury, I’d be surprised if he did not have Mercury Rising or on the MC and the royal star Regulus (at the end of Leo) on the angle. (That’s 5.40 or 11.35 am) No other rock and roll legend has been described as frequently as “a god” by music writers. And he unquestionably seems to channel the spirit of the messenger god — trickster, harlequin, communicator, psychopomp — in his stage performance. As for Regulus, well, you have only to see the many pictures of Freddie sporting a crown to get that one. Regulus is the royal star.
But Mercury was not just a great singer, he was, as he put it himself “a Parsee peacock”, a flamboyant, uninhibited lover of sequins, rubber, leather, gold chains, big belts — and Adidas sneakers. What is more, with an athletic, dancer’s physique, he pulled off wearing a harlequin catsuit, a skintight white jumpsuit, baring his furry chest. Truly, Mercury’s costumes were unique, and often outrageous. Few other rockers can measure up style-wise — maybe Stevie Nicks, sometimes Bowie, Brian Ferry. Both Madonna and Lady Gaga were evidently inspired by his stage persona.
No wonder he was such a flashy dresser: Mercury has a huge stellium in Libra, the sign of the rag-trade — a stellium sandwiched between the two planets of fashion — Neptune and Venus. And his style statements were bound to be big and audacious with Venus conjoining the magnifier Jupiter. There’s also a kind of humble fearlessness, a willingness to share his own weakness and turn it into a strength — and come back singing We Are The Champions — to Freddie’s stage presence. Perhaps the Mars-Chiron conjunction in Libra has something to do with that.
In the year that Queen was formed — and he was finally able to get that flamboyant side of his character up on stage — Jupiter was transiting through Libra. On the 27 of June, the day of the first gig, Freddie Mercury had his Jupiter Return (exactly!).
Here’s where we come to the very definitely Mercury part of Mercury. He was born when Uranus, the planet of switcheroos — and electrification — was sitting on the North Node in Gemini, Mercury’s own sign. Uranus is considered by many astrologers to be the higher octave of Mercury anyway — kind of Mercury-plus. That Uranus makes a lovely trine to all of Freddie’s fashion planets. And here’s another thing: that axis across middle degrees of Gemini-Sagittarius has been shown to be a rock and roll axis.* [John Etherington thank you]
Uranus and the sign Aquarius do seem to have a bit of an affinity with cross dressing — Eddie Izzard, Barry Humphries and Ellen DeGeneres are all Aquarians, for example. Freddie himself donned a PVC miniskirt and full housewife wig for the video of I Want To Break Free.
Uranus in Libra would define the style of the first few years of the 1970s. The god of change danced in and out of the sign of fashion in 1968 and 1969, but by 1970s Uranus was definitively in Libra for just a few dazzling years — until 1974. Glam rock was born. Just two weeks before Queen’s first gig, Uranus turned direct at 4° Libra, ready to shake every single one of Freddie Mercury’s Libra planets up — and let them break free. He’d already visited Freddie’s Neptune earlier that year and by the end of the summer he was back — electrifying Queen’s sound and dress sense.
Of course, Freddie, being mercurial, adapted his clothes to the times. His look evolved from platform-heeled, androgynous, glam-rocker to BDSM bad boy by the time of the renowned 1985 Live Aid concert. That concert revived Queen’s tarnished reputation. The band had suffered from the punk backlash against all things gorgeous and glittery, and poor publicity from an ill-judged concert in apartheid South Africa. But on that day July 18, 1985 — all was forgiven. The gig has gone down in history as possibly the greatest live stadium performance ever. This date would fit with an 11.35am birth time, since Neptune was at 1° Capricorn.
As a fashion icon, Mercury was inimitable, so why did GQ, the men’s fashion bible, in 2018 more than thirty years after Mercury’s untimely death, (November 24, 1991. trJupiter in partile conjunction to his natal Sun) publish a feature entitled “Why You Should Dress Like Freddie Mercury?”
The short answer is because a new biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, came out in October 2018, as the Sun shone across Freddie’s Libra stellium. In another spin of the wheel of reputation (as the nodes cross his natal Saturn), Freddie will be claimed by a new generation. His fluid sexuality, his Mercurial switch-hitting, his flamboyant disregard and lampooning of “masculinity” are absolutely on trend.
I’m looking forward to seeing a few harlequin leotards and maybe a yellow military jacket walking down my high street — and personally? I’ve got my Adidas.
This article was originally published in The Astrological Journal.